RCMP Corporal Trent Sperlie reported to Hanna council at their regular meeting on Tues. Jan. 8 that the newest member, Constable (Cst.) Lengsfeld joined the Hanna Detachment on Dec. 27, 2018.
Cst. Lengsfeld is a native of Calgary and in 2018 spent time at the site of the Waterton Lakes fire.
With the new constable arriving, Cst. Kingscote-Lajeunesse will soon be leaving the detachment so the division will then function with five constables and one sergeant.
When questioned, the RCMP delegation reported that there have been no cannabis issues or complaints about misuse of cannabis in Hanna since legalization came into being on Oct. 17, 2018.
With legislation of cannabis edibles expected later this year, Cpl. Sperlie said they are not expecting any change in this present behaviour pattern.
Increased traffic regulation awareness was also a focus for the final quarter of 2018 and will remain a focus in 2019.
There was an increase in the number of traffic citations issued in the final quarter of 2018.
Griffiths working with task force Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill reported on his meeting with the Task Force which has the role of creating a strategic plan to transition away from coal.
Author of 13 Ways to Kill Your Community and former provincial cabinet minister, Doug Griffiths has been retained by the Task Force and will be working in this community until the end of April.
Coun. Sandra Beaudoin noted that residents are suffering because of the coal shut down and Mayor Chris Warwick said that Griffiths is here to help with answering questions from the residents.
Beaudoin wondered if all avenues of information dissemination are being utilized including monthly updates to the website and advertising in the newspapers to help maximize the strategy for the path forward.
For the past three years, Mayor Warwick has met with representatives from Forestburg, a town in similar circumstances.
National curling event application
CAO Neill also reported that the Elks have applied to host a National Curling event from March 7 to 10, 2019.
He went on to say events like this bring people to town filling local restaurants and hotels.
Neill continued saying the Town is working with the local medical clinic and setting up a weather station to facilitate STARS accessibility during inclement weather.
The Town is working with Palliser Regional Municipal Services to develop an alert system to be used as a tool to notify residents about items like snow removal schedules or weather alerts.
Neill noted that a lot of communities are using alert systems to keep their residents informed on a timely basis.
Move to new facility Public Works Director, Brent Olesen, presented the Public Works report and said the move to the new facility is almost complete.
Council will view the new shop soon and a public viewing will be scheduled in the spring.
Olesen said an issue arose at the main sewer lift station in December, showing a picture of the blob in the lift station.
Investigation into the blob showed it originated because disposable single use items like baby wipes were being flushed.
Olesen stated that until a government law prohibits the manufacture and sale of non-flushable disposable items and/or prohibits the flushing of non-flushable disposable and other sinister items, this type of issue will be ongoing.
Looking to increase firefighter numbers
Fire Chief David Mohl of the Hanna Fire Department presented his fourth quarter and year end reports, stating that the department responded to 34 calls from October to December, 2018, responding to a total of 124 for the entire year.
Hanna presently has 27 firefighters and is looking to increase that number by at least three.
Four training courses for firefighters are planned for 2019.
Phase 1 of the burn tower has started with the apron poured and work commencing on the metal stairs.
Phase 2 which includes gas lines should be complete in March or April 2019.
“Presently, the project coordinators are questioning if the entire tower site needs to be fenced,” said Mohl.
Grants have been applied for but funding will need to be supplemented with fundraising activities which are presently in the pre-planning stages.
There were 32 false alarms and some of these were caused by a lack of training by homeowners on residential security systems.
To date, these false alarm callouts are not billed to the homeowners but this type of incident may be considered in the future at a cost of $500 to $600 per callout.
There were 29 grass fires compared to 43 in 2017.
Medical aids numbered 10 compared to 12 in 2017.
There were two structure fires down from 10 and two vehicle fires amounting to the same as 2017.
Miscellaneous calls numbered seven, down from 15, however, rescue was at 42, up from 33.
Despite the numbers being down in some areas, Mohl said the department had their second busiest year.
“Traffic on Hwy 9 is heavier, and some drivers on semis are new Class 1 drivers not yet familiar with navigating the bends on Hwy 9 east of Hanna, which can lead to chaos,” said Mohl.
Mohl noted there have been several incidents which included fatalities which takes a toll on responders.
There is a push both federally and provincially to get more funding for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) counselling for first responders.
Peer support is one method first responders use to deal with the trauma initiated by responding to a fatal incident.
Debriefing is considered important for all participants after responding to a fatality but because of the nature of working in a rural firehouse with volunteers who often have concurrent employment commitments and the debrief is dependant on the time of day of the callout, debriefing can sometimes be difficult to schedule.
Bylaw change addresses proper zoning
Mayor Warwick brought forward the motion to rezone SW10-31-14-W4 “UR” – Urban Reserve to “C-2” – Commercial Industrial District.
This bylaw affects the Cervus Equipment property at 302 Pioneer Trail South, which determines the proper zoning for the area.
A Commercial Industrial District is meant to provide for a range of commercial and light industrial uses with nuisance effects that do not extend beyond the site.
It essentially allows the business to sell and service farm and heavy equipment.
The change will be advertised and a public meeting is necessary for passing the rezoning.
First reading was passed unanimously and Council scheduled the hearing for February.
Coun. Connie Deadlock reported that the Westmoreland Coal Company has scheduled a session for affected employees on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 where representatives from government agencies will be in attendance to help affected employees explore possibilities of retirement, tuition, and/or access to social and health programs.
Deadlock confirmed that there will be layoffs and advised that councils’ role is to be in attendance.
Coun. Kyle Olsen advised of the Learning Centre fundraiser in April and also reported that the Golf Course manager resigned having golf course staff step up to help fill in the gap.
Coun. Gerald Campion noted that the Waste Management Requisition remains unchanged from 2018.
As a final note, Mayor Warwick said that CWL Energy Management has submitted an expression of interest to the Town of Hanna and Special Areas Board on a community generation solar and wind power project as well as additional storage.